Bavarian Soviet Republic

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An end is put to the Red Terror of the Communists and Spartacists in Munich by members of the Freikorps; captured Red Army soldier of the Räterepublik on 3 May 1919, three days after the "Munich Hostage Murder" (Münchner Geiselmord).

The Bavarian or more correctly Munich Soviet Republic and Bavarian Socialist Republic (German: Räterepublik Baiern or Münchner Räterepublik) was a short-lived communist state in Bavaria during the German Revolution. It was established in April 1919 after the demise of the so-called People's State of Bavaria led by the Jewish revolutionary Kurt Eisner (assassinated 21 Feb 1919) who sought to establish a socialist soviet republic in Bavaria. It was overthrown less than a month later by elements of the Provisional Reichswehr and the paramilitary Freikorps.


For all practical purposes the Munich Räterepublik extended no further than Dachau in the north, and Garmisch and Rosenheim in the south.[1] The People's State of Bavaria was established and led by "alien Jews"[2] who included Kurt Eisner (a journalist, assassinated 21 February 1919. The writer Heinrich Mann, elder brother of Thomas Mann whose wife was Jewish, gave the funeral oration), Ernst Toller (initial Commander of the Munich Red Army), Eugen Leviné (founder of the Bavarian Communist Party), and Gustav Landauer (Red Minister of Education) following a coup which announced the "People's State of Bavaria" in November 1918 after King Ludwig III, taking advice from his counsellors, fled the capital in fear of his and his family's lives.[3]

The Munich Soviet Republic was subsequently suppressed by units of the German Army and the Freikorps. 20,000 men from the Freikorps in Prussia and Württemberg, under the command of Prussian General Ernst Friedrich Otto von Oven (de), General Arnold Ritter von Möh and Colonel Franz Xaver Ritter von Epp (de), moved into Bavaria from the north and west.

Leviné had meanwhile pulled together a new Red Army of about 10,000 men, under the command of Rudolf Eglhofer, but it was insufficient to pit against the superior forces relentlessly approaching. During this crisis Leviné ordered the confiscation of bank accounts and safe deposits, and requisitioned the private food stocks of the bourgeoisé.

"In their rage the Reds behaved like wild beasts, often revenging themselves on the innocent."[4]

He also arrested political opponents, executing eight members of the famous Thule Club as well as two captured military officers. These hostages were so tortured and mutilated that it was almost impossible to identify them. They included a Prince of the House of Thurn and Taxis and Countess Westarp. An order had been found saying that all princes, members of the nobility and officers were to be instantly killed.[5] The Soviet Council and Toller reproached Leviné for his policy of violence and he resigned on 29 April 1919, the day Dachau fell, and the next day Gustav Noske[6]'s troops penetrated Munich city from three directions. Communist resistance collapsed on the afternoon of 2 May 1919.

At least 606 people were killed during the fighting. 1,000-1,200 Communists and social anarchists were executed. Leviné was tried in court, and shot, and Landauer was trampled to death by the mob.[7] Toller survived and was imprisoned for five years for his part in the armed resistance by his Soviet Republic to the central government in Berlin.

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External links


  1. Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918-19 by Sebastian Haffner, 1973, p. 174.
  2. Through Four Revolutions 1862-1933 by H.R.H. Princess Ludwig Ferdinand of Bavaria, London, 1933, p. 308.
  3. Through Four Revolutions 1862-1933, Chapter Fifteen: "The Third Revolution 1918-1919".
  4. Through Four Revolutions 1862-1933, p. 318.
  5. Through Four Revolutions 1862-1933, p. 319.
  6. Friedrich Ebert's Civil War Commander-in-Chief
  7. Haffner, 1973, p. 174-5.